The British Royal Air Force (RAF) Mosquitoes again carried
out extensive raids over Berlin during the night.
In Australasia. Japanese air force bombers again attempted
to raid Exmouth Gulf.
It was announced that Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief
of Japanese fleet, was killed in April in air combat. United
States of America President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered
Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox to Get Isoroku Yamamoto.
Knox instructed Admiral Chester W. Nimitz of Roosevelt's wishes.
Admiral Nimitz consulted Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., Commander,
South Pacific, then authorised a mission on 17
to intercept Isoroku Yamamoto's flight en route
and shoot it down. A squadron of Lockheed P-38 Lightning aircraft
were assigned the task as only they possessed the range to
intercept and engage. Select pilots from three units were
informed that they were intercepting an "important high
officer" with no specific name given.
On the morning of 18
, despite urgings by local commanders to cancel
the trip for fear of ambush, Isoroku Yamamoto's two Mitsubishi
G4M fast transport aircraft left Rabaul as scheduled for the
315 miles trip. Sixteen Lightnings intercepted the flight
over Bougainville and a dogfight ensued between them and the
six escorting Mitsubishi A6M Zeroes. First Lieutenant Rex
T. Barber engaged the first of the two Japanese transports
which turned out to be Isoroku Yamamoto's plane. He targeted
the aircraft with gunfire until it began to spew smoke from
its left engine. Barber turned away to attack the other transport
as Isoroku Yamamoto's plane crashed into the jungle.
The crash site and body of Isoroku Yamamoto were found the
next day in the jungle north of the then-coastal site of the
former Australian patrol post of Buin by a Japanese search
and rescue party, led by army engineer, Lieutenant Hamasuna.
According to Hamasuna, Isoroku Yamamoto had been thrown clear
of the plane's wreckage, his white-gloved hand grasping the
hilt of his katana, still upright in his seat under a tree.
Hamasuna said Isoroku Yamamoto was instantly recognisable,
head dipped down as if deep in thought. A post-mortem of the
body disclosed that Isoroku Yamamoto had received two 50 calibre
bullet wounds, one to the back of his left shoulder and another
to his left lower jaw that exited above his right eye. The
Japanese navy doctor examining the body determined that the
head wound killed Isoroku Yamamoto.
Eighth Air Force. 123 United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
bombers of VIII Bomber Command hit Kriegsmarine U-boat yards.
Main effort is directed at Wilhelmshaven while smaller number
of planes strike at Emden. At Wilhelmshaven Luftwaffe fighters
are reported firing rockets.
Northwest African Air Forces (NAAF). During 20
May 1943, Wellingtons hit Villacidro and Decimomannu airfields
and targets on Sardinia. During day, B-25 Mitchell medium
bombers and B-26 Marauder medium bombers bomb the same airfields.
P-40 fighters attack gun positions and targets on Pantelleria,
and B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers hit hangars, repair
shops, dispersal points, and a gun battery at Castelvetrano.
Ninth Air Force. During 20
May 1943, The British Royal Air Force (RAF) Liberators, under
IX Bomber Command, bomb Messina and Reggio di Calabria. During
day, B-24 Liberator heavy bombers hit Villa San Giovanni and
Reggio di Calabria; gunners claim 4 fighters destroyed. P-40
fighters fly sea patrol off Northeast Tunisian coast.
Fifth Air Force. United States Army Air Force (USAAF) B-17
Flying Fortress heavy bombers bomb airfields in Rabaul area
while B-24 Liberator heavy bombers hit airfields at Gasmata.
Nabire airfield is hit by B-24 Liberator heavy bombers while
B-25 Mitchell medium bombers blast antiaircraft positions,
supply dumps, and town area at Saumlakki.
Eleventh Air Force. Of 10 United States Army Air Force (USAAF)
B-24 Liberator heavy bombers, 12 B-25 Mitchell medium bombers
, and 24 P-38 Lightning fighters dispatched to Attu only 3
missions, totalling 6 P-38 Lightning fighters and 1 B-24 Liberator
heavy bombers, are able to bomb and strafe troops and installations.
4 other missions, after vainly waiting for a break in the
overcast over Attu, bomb Kiska submarine base through overcast.
Go To: 22nd
The Second Great War.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton
The War Illustrated.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton
2194 Days Of War.
For a complete list of sources